Win for MPs as Treasury defies court, to release Sh44.8b CDF cash

Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung'u. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

From Friday next week, Members of Parliament (MPs) will access the Sh44.8 billion National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) kitty after the Treasury bowed to pressure and agreed to release the monies. In September last year, lawmakers were dealt a blow after former Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Ukur Yattani, refused to release CDF monies, citing a court order.

The Supreme Court then declared the CDF Act 2013 illegal, noting that it offends division of functions between national and county governments.

After appointment as new Treasury CS, Njuguna Ndung'u sought legal opinion from Attorney General Justin Muturi on implications of the Supreme Court ruling on the NG-CDF kitty.

And yesterday, Prof Ndung'u wrote to the House communicating his intent to disburse the funds after getting a go-ahead from the Attorney General.

In his communication read by National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula, the CS revealed that beginning Friday next week, he will make weekly disbursements of Sh2 billion to the NG-CDF kitty.

"I wish to bring to your attention the fact that I have received a statement from the CS Treasury regarding the effect of the Supreme Court's decision on the matter of the NG-CDF Act and the accrued liabilities of the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF) and NG-CDF," said Mr Wetang'ula.

"In light of the advice from the Attorney General, the National Treasury and Economic Planning confirms that it will commence disbursement to the NG-CDF by tranches of Sh2 billion on a weekly basis with effect from December 9 and it will have disbursed Sh44.289 billion by the 23rd week of disbursement," added the Speaker.

The AG, in his legal opinion to the Treasury, said the NG-CDF technically remains in force until a contrary direction is made by a superior court.

He said the ruling on the CDF Act 2013 does not affect the NG-CDF Act 2015 under which the fund is currently premised.

"The NG-CDF Act of 2015 has itself not been expressly declared unconstitutional despite the observations by the Supreme Court," said Wetang'ula.

"Based on the foregoing guidance, the Attorney General has therefore advised that the NG-CDF Act of 2015 technically remains in force until the express declaration is formally made by the High Court or other superior courts as may be seized of the matter on appeal."

The MPs are also seeking to increase the NG-CDF kitty to at least five per cent of the total national revenue, which is Sh88 billion.

The law currently sets aside 2.5 per cent of the total revenue raised nationally to be shared among the 290 constituencies.

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